Page:Passages from the Life of a Philosopher.djvu/58

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to be automatic. Of machines for Multiplication and Division, which have fully come under my examination, I cannot at present recall one to my memory as absolutely fulfilling this condition.

The earliest idea that I can trace in my own mind of calculating arithmetical Tables by machinery arose in this manner:—

One evening I was sitting in the rooms of the Analytical Society, at Cambridge, my head leaning forward on the Table in a kind of dreamy mood, with a Table of logarithms lying open before me. Another member, coming into the room, and seeing me half asleep, called out, "Well, Babbage, what are you dreaming about?" to which I replied, "I am thinking that all these Tables (pointing to the logarithms) might be calculated by machinery."

I am indebted to my friend, the Rev. Dr. Robinson, the Master of the Temple, for this anecdote. The event must have happened either in 1812 or 1813.

About 1819 I was occupied with devising means for accurately dividing astronomical instruments, and had arrived at a plan which I thought was likely to succeed perfectly. I had also at that time been speculating about making machinery to compute arithmetical Tables.

One morning I called upon the late Dr. Wollaston, to consult him about my plan for dividing instruments. On talking over the matter, it turned out that my system was exactly that which had been described by the Duke de Chaulnes, in the Memoirs of the French Academy of Sciences, about fifty or sixty years before. I then mentioned my other idea of computing Tables by machinery, which Dr. Wollaston thought a more promising subject.

I considered that a machine to execute the mere isolated